Ladies, are you suffering from any of the following symptoms? Anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, pain & inflammation, osteoporosis, heavy periods, hypersensitivity, nervousness, migraines, weight gain, decreased libido, low HDL cholesterol. Thousands of women suffer from these symptoms and are prescribed various medications and often a hormonal cause is not sought by the treating physician. These symptoms may be a hormonal imbalance, specifically a deficiency of progesterone. Causes of low progesterone may be from decreased production of progesterone, low LH, increased prolactin, stress, antidepressant medication use, sugar, saturated fat, excessive arginine consumption, certain vitamin deficiencies, or decreased thyroid hormone.
Are you taking birth control pills? Many doctors recommend these for women complaining of progesterone deficiency symptoms. Most of these pills contain progestins. Progestins are similar to progesterone in that they bind to the progesterone receptor, but they are NOT progesterone. Progestins may cause various side effects including increased appetite, weight gain, fluid retention, irritability, depression, headaches, decreased energy, bloating, breast tenderness, decreased sexual interest, acne, hair loss, nausea, and insomnia. Progestins may also affect the body’s own production of progesterone which further lowers your progesterone levels. Progestins may cause spasm of the coronary arteries and do not balance estrogen the way progesterone does. They also remain in the body longer than natural progesterone. Progestins block the protective effect of estrogen on the heart, increase LDL (bad cholesterol), and lower HDL (good cholesterol). Progestins do protect the uterus from cancer but do not protect the breast from cancer. They also counteract many of the positive effects of estrogen on serotonin production. Still think you should be using these for birth control?
Natural progesterone, on the other hand, has many positive benefits. It helps balance the estrogen in your body and also leaves the body quickly. It improves sleep and has a calming effect while also lowering blood pressure. It also helps lower cholesterol and improves the HDL/LDL ratio. It may protect against breast cancer by its effects on estrogen. It increases scalp hair and balances fluids within the cells. Progesterone is a natural anti-depressant and improves libido. It is also anti-inflammatory and increases bone production. It also enhances the effects of thyroid hormones. Progesterone is also neuroprotective which may aid in memory.
As stated above, there are many reasons for low progesterone. One of the biggest factors is STRESS. When under stress your body makes a stress hormone called cortisol. If under prolonged stress, which many women experience, then your body will use progesterone to make more cortisol. This is called “cortisol steal”. There are many negative factors associated with this entity and simply restoring your progesterone is not the complete answer. The management of stress and cortisol is the topic of another conversation. Suffice it to say that in today’s 24/7/365 society, stress is one of the main reasons for lowered progesterone. It is very important to have complete testing done in order to determine the root of the problem. We can then plan an appropriate treatment regimen to get you feeling like yourself again.